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Stock Upgrades: Moneygram Is Sound as a Pound


Wall Street ratings agencies set the tone for today's stock market.

If the third day of Christmas is all about three French hens, the third day of Uncle Sam's shutdown killed the goose that laid the golden egg. (This despite decent employment data from a consulting company called Christmas.) The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI), now down in nine of its past 11 sessions, promptly plunged back below 15,000. Among stocks on the move, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) continued to cool off, tumbling 4.22% after a recent fire. Jaguar owner Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM), whose cars are more prone to melting caused by British buildings, fared far better in advancing 2.60%.

Elsewhere an analyst downgrade saw Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) fall 2.18% but, you never know, the analyst may one day take it back. And Shanghai travel company Ctrip.Com International (NASDAQ:CTRP) backed off from all-time highs, imploding 3.24% after China told its nose-picking, pool-peeing tourists to take a hike.

September's employment report, originally due for release at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, has been postponed due to the government shutdown. In earnings action, Taiwanese smartphone provider HTC Corporation (OTCMKTS:HTCKF) announced its first ever quarterly loss earlier today. Here at home, sandwich shop Potbelly (NASDAQ:PBPB) is expected to start trading this morning after pricing its initial public offering at $14 per share.

Acuity Brands (NYSE:AYI): Shares are now Neutral from Underperform at Sterne Agee.

Alliance Data Systems (NYSE:ADS): BMO Capital boosts its recommendation to Outperform from Market Perform. Its price objective, previously $195, increases to $240.

Barclays (NYSE:BCS): The British bank gets upgraded to Buy from Add at Investec.

Essex Property Trust (NYSE:ESS): Cantor Fitzgerald raises the residential Real Estate Investment Trust to Buy from Hold and also takes its target up by $6.50, to $177.50.

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM): The oil outfit and key Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) component is juiced to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James.

Harte-Hanks (NYSE:HHS): HHS gets hoisted to Outperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital, which also increases its objective to $10 from $9.

Moneygram International Inc (NASDAQ:MGI): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Compass Point, whose target is also taken up to $23 from $19. A recent share-price retrenchment has left the sock compelling valued, the bank believes, especially amid strengthening fundamentals.

New Mountain Finance (NYSE:NMFC): Keefe Bruyette boosts the company to Outperform from Perform.

OpenTable (NASDAQ:OPEN): Hailing the company's mobile initiatives, Piper Jaffray juices its rating to Overweight from Neutral.

PAREXEL (NASDAQ:PRXL): The stock is now Buy from Neutral at ISI Group amid increasing vendor consolidation.

Valspar (NYSE:VAL): Deutsche Bank boosts the paint powerhouse to Buy from Hold.

Zoetis (NYSE:ZTS): Morgan Stanley moves the animal health outfit to Overweight from Equal Weight.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Wynn Resorts, Tesoro, and Cepheid and New Stock Coverage: US Airways, JDS Uniphase, and 21st Century Fox.)
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